Republican Troy Balderson defeated Democratic opponent Danny O’Conner this week in a special election to determine who will represent Ohio’s 12th Congressional District.
The vote was tight, with Balderson scoring 50.1% of the vote to O’Connor’s 49.3%. Green Party candidate Joe Manchik earned less than 1% of the vote.
Republicans claimed victory Tuesday night, while liberal news outlets like The Washington Post continued to insist the race was ‘too close to call.’ As noted Thursday afternoon by The New York Times, Balderson is leading by just 0.8 percentage points with roughly 3,400 provisional ballots unaccounted for. According to Ohio law, there must be a recount if the final vote shows two candidates separated by less than 0.5 percentage points.
Democrats had been hoping O’Connor would win as part of an expected “blue wave” in primary elections that would carry the Dems to victory in November when they attempt to flip 23 seats to take House majority.
“Democrats, I’m sure, are going to try and turn this into some sort of moral victory,” says Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH). “But last time I checked, moral victories don’t get a vote on the congressional floor.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan congratulated Balderson on his victory Tuesday night. “Congrats to @Troy_Balderson on his win in the #OH12 special election tonight. Looking forward to working with him to build on our accomplishments this fall.”
Speaking to cheering supporters, Balderson promised he would work “relentlessly” to represent the district. “America is on the right path, and we’re going to keep it going that way,” he said. “Over the next three months, I’m going to do everything I can to keep America great again.” Balderson, who supports Trump’s priorities for Obamacare and border security, assured voters that his loyalty to Trump would never supersede his dedication to the state of Ohio.
Balderson’s campaign received invaluable support from Ohio Governor John Kasich and from House Republicans, whose Congressional Leadership Fund spent $3.7 million opposing O’Conner and about $2.4 million supporting Balderson. Later in his campaign, Balderson was endorsed by Present Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
GOP ads against O’Connor portrayed him as a puppet of Nancy Pelosi, while Democrats’ ads against Balderson attacked him for a comment he made in July about raising the minimum age for Medicare and Social Security. Days after the comment, Balderson said he would never made cuts to either program.
Balderson’s victory will send him straight to Washington, where he will serve the remainder of recently-retired Pat Tiberi’s term. Tiberi stepped down in January after 16 years representing the district.
A second election will take place November 6th to determine which candidate will represent the 12th district starting in January 2019.